Since its inception, College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) students have been pioneers paving the way with innovative, hands-on, practical learning experiences. In partnership with TRICA, Treasure Valley Institute of Children’s Arts, OTA students worked side-by-side with children in the community during the Fall 2021 semester to learn and perform a dance with choreography tailored to their unique abilities.
In collaboration with their instructors, students developed interactive activities aimed to address various pediatric needs of the children. The hard work and dedication of both the students and the children culminated in a week-long, all-inclusive dance camp. Regardless of their abilities, the children were able to twist and shout on stage for family and friends.
“TRICA was so honored to collaborate with the CWI’s OTA program in this inaugural, adapted dance program that helped to define for children what success means, which is doing their personal best,” said TRICA Creative Director, Jon Swarthout.
“This was such an amazing, hands-on experience,” said OTA student, Skylar Luna. “I have learned skills I will carry with me throughout my career as an occupational therapy assistant.”
This and other service-based learning projects over the course of the semester gave students invaluable learning experiences through the practical application of key clinical concepts.
“Creating hands-on learning opportunities through collaboration with families in our community and the TRICA organization allowed us to provide our students with the increased ability to effectively apply classroom concepts to real-life situations for a richer, more immersive learning experience,” said OTA Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, Angela Zaugg.
“This experience was beneficial to both the students and the participants,” said Deborah Waters, a nurse and mother of TRICA collaboration participants. “As a fellow healthcare professional, I loved watching the students and instructors work together to identify the individual needs of the participants. I think this program was mutually beneficial. As we have both a child with special needs and an advanced toddler, it was very interesting to see the modifications made to help both of them progress, as well as see the OTA students learn. I wish I would have had a similar experience during my education!”
“The OTA program believes in the strength and resilience of the human body, mind, and spirit,” said OTA faculty, Christina Jenkins. “We express our appreciation to TRICA and to the many families for making this dance camp a reality. Be on the look out for more from CWI’s highly-talented OTA students as they share their knowledge, passion, and skills within the community."
The OTA annual application period is now open. Applications are being accepted for Fall 2022 through April 15, 2022.